Friday, April 30, 2010

Understanding the Generations

“Each generation goes further than the generation preceding it because it stands on the shoulders of that generation. You will have opportunities beyond anything we've ever known.”

Ronald Reagan

President, Ronald Reagan might have been stating the obvious with that statement. However, history has proven his hypothesis to be correct and despite the protestations of preceding generations, the current crop of youngsters will in fact, excel beyond anything we can imagine...thanks in part to the encouragement and support that we give them.

I recently did a keynote presentation on understanding the generations at a regional district meeting in British Columbia’s beautiful Kootenay area. The folks there were quite surprised to find that there are actually 6 generations currently alive and well on our planet. Here they are:

1. The Great Generation, Ages 84 to 109

2. The Traditional, Ages 65 to 83

3. The Boomers, Ages 46 to 64

4. Generation X, Ages 31 to 45

5. Generation Y, Ages 16 to 30

6. Generation Z, Ages 0 to 15

Clearly, most Great Generation and Generation Z folks are not active in the workforce, but it is quite conceivable that members of all of the other 4 generations might end up in the same workplace. That being the case, it is important to understand each of them. I would like to give you some tips on how you can get along with them all a little better:

1. Traditionals are also known as the silent generation. They don’t like complainers and they communicate with few words. They grew up accepting prejudice and they hate having their integrity questioned. If you are working with a Traditional, treat him or her with respect and accept that their views are unique and often politically incorrect in today’s world. Be patient with them and don’t bother arguing with them...They won’t give in and you won’t win!

2. Boomers are currently close to retirement but they are still holding the reins of power in many workplaces. They work hard and like their Traditional parents, they hate having their integrity questioned. Because of their nearness to retirement and their relative financial comfort, they tend to be more understanding of the ways of younger people and can make great allies for kids who are moving up the ladder behind them. When working with a Boomer, prepare to be challenged. If you have an idea, present it respectfully and know your stuff. If you don’t have all of the information, a Boomer will send you back for more research. If you present a problem, also present a solution. Boomers don’t like complainers who have no substance to their protestations.

3. Generation X is perhaps the most difficult Generation of all to understand in the workplace. They are success driven and in a hurry to get things done. They are often impatient with the attitudes and work ethics of Generation Y and they dislike the fact that Generation Y wants to move up the corporate ladder faster than they did. When working with a Generation X person speak in short sound-bites and don’t challenge them on things they are confident of. They don’t like to have their word questioned and they want to win. If you want to get along with them, consider their point of view and agree with as much of it as you can without compromising your own integrity. They like a fight, so if you push them into a corner, expect them to come out swinging.

4. Generation Y is the focus of much attention these days. It is important to understand that it was the Boomers and Generation X parents that made Gen Y. The parents of Generation Y gave them everything, hovered over their every move, and protected them like mother bears. Generation Y youngsters do not understand the word ‘no’ because they never heard it while they were growing up. They were encouraged and doted on to the point that each of them believes they are truly special and that no misfortune will ever befall them. If employers don’t give them what they want, they can always go home to Mom and Dad. When working with Gen Y folks, expect them to want flexible hours, a casual manner of dress, ever-changing work responsibilities and a  variety of activities. They get bored easily and if they don’t like a job, they will often exhibit negative behaviour or simply quit. They have no more respect for their elders than they do for their peers, so prepare for an approach and an attitude that might seem lackadaisical or disrespectful. Gen Y needs meaningful work and they require all of the information necessary to do it well. They need feedback and acknowledgement for all they do and they will not work hard for a boss who ignores them. If you want to get the best out of a Gen Y, ask them what they want and give them as much of it as you can. Remember that despite their unorthodox approach, they still must perform at a reasonable level, so set clear and attainable goals for them and then encourage them regularly. They will excel when their job suits them to a tee!

The bottom line is that all of the generations that find themselves working together must get along and must understand that the other generations react, perform, succeed and fail in their own ways and for their own reasons. People really don’t change much in the course of their lives, so don’t expect to make any of the generations into something they are not. It simply is not possible to pound a square peg into a round hold, so no matter what your job is, match your pegs with you holes and support them just as Ronald Reagan hoped you would!

If you would like to learn more by having me present my “Generation Why!” seminar at your next event, contact me at wkehl@dlionline.ca or wkehl@telus.net .

All the Best!

Wayne Kehl

Saturday, April 24, 2010

We were all created equal

If you put yourself ahead of me, I might not follow; If you ignore me, I will have no one to follow; If you put yourself above me, I will not look up while you are looking down; If you put yourself beside me, we will walk as one with the strength of two.

Wayne Kehl

This quote is a reminder to everyone on earth that we are all created equal and that we perform better when we go through life on an equal footing with everyone we meet. We are all leaders in our own way and we all follow others from time to time. Leadership and followership in personal and work relationships are difficult but inescapable. As long as we have relationships, some folks will lead and some will follow from time to time.

Kids in the schoolyard learn at an early age that some children run faster than others and some enjoy a greater capacity for learning. They also learn that very few kids are better at everything than everyone else and that where one child lacks, another one excels. Everyone is good at something and everyone deserves a chance to excel in that which they can be great.

Modern business almost always puts some team members at the top, some at the bottom and some in the middle of the hierarchy. That structure works well, only when the people at the top recognize and understand that without the people at the bottom, the ship of business has no hull and will sink; without the people in the middle, the ship has no engine and will not move, but without the people at the top, the ship will only drift off course for a short while until a new rudder is found...and the world is full of rudders looking for a new ship!

Most people would agree that there is no place in marriage or family life for arrogance, greed, guile, cruelty, dishonesty or favouritism. The same holds true for business but we find all of those negative traits in the offices and warehouses of the world every day. It is almost as if many people who understand the values of honesty, kindness and fair play, lose all cognizance of those qualities the minute they walk through the doors of their workplaces each morning. People at work are owed and deserve the same level of respect as those at home. It happens at all levels in all industries world-wide every day.

If you want to be truly successful in any area of your life, remember that you were created equal to every other human being and that the status you have attained is only an indication that you are different...not better! If you treat everyone with respect, honesty and kindness at all times, your personal life will be a joy and your career will soar beyond your wildest dreams. Conversely, if you put yourself ahead of others, ignore them, become complacent to their needs, lord your position over them or put yourself on a pedestal, no one else will care about your status and you will wander aimlessly through life, alone and successful only to yourself.

If you want to be happy and successful, think about the folks around you and try to help them to become just as happy and successful as you would like to be!

Life is for living!

 Wayne Kehl



Friday, April 16, 2010

Generation "Y" will soon rule the world!

Generation “Why”?

The world is strangely concerned about generation “Y” these days. I don’t understand it! Generation “Y” is just the current crop of kids that will eventually rule the world. They are the children of Boomers and Generation “X” parents and they were born between 1980 and 1994. Currently they are aged 16 to 30. Every generation had people in their teens and in their twenties, so why is this group being singled out for critical speculation and deeply negative apprehension?

When I was a kid in the 1950’s it was the beatniks who were singled out for scrutiny by older, wiser adults. “Who or what were beatniks?” you might ask. They were oddly thoughtful people who believed in nonconformity and spent a lot of time reading, writing, and reciting poetry. They wore funny clothing and lived in communes where they played guitars and bongo drums. They believed society had it all wrong and that their deeply literary view of the world was better. The beatniks were followed by the hippies in the 60’s and 70’s. My Goodness, what was with them? Lead by the rock band, the Beatles, they had long hair and multicoloured, multi-patterned clothing. They hated war and they believed in peace and love. “Imagine that!” Most young people of the era embraced hippie-ism in one way or another either through hallucinatory drug use, fashion, music, or social consciousness. Older folks everywhere hated the rock bands of the era just as they hated the lyrics of the songs they sang.

Speaking of music, here are some lyrics from a song written in 1960 and made popular in the 1963 movie, Bye Bye Birdie. Kids! Why can’t they be like we were...perfect in every way? What’s the matter with kids today?” The song goes on to say, “They are disobedient, disrespectful oafs! Noisy, crazy, sloppy, lazy loafers!” So you see, even a half century ago the younger generation was a huge concern for parents. As is the case today, parents believed that their way of doing things was perfect in every way and that children should conform to their way of thinking if they were going to amount to anything. Keep in mind too, that the kids this song describes went on to become the Boomers and Generation “X” adults that brought more technological advancement, personal luxury, and monetary success to the world than ever seen before. If the kids who were so rudely admonished in this song had been more like their parents they might not have gone on to invent computers, microwave ovens, cellular telephones, and crazy glue. The crazy, sloppy, lazy kids of the 60’s went on to be the innovators, inventors and geniuses of the 90’s.

So, why are so many people worried about Generation “Y”? The answer is simple. Fear of the unknown and the natural human tendency to reject new things and new ideas drives our thoughts. We fear that which is foreign or unusual to us. We know that our way works for us so why should we accept change? What we have to keep in mind though, is that we made Generation “Y” what they are today. We created an attitude of entitlement in them and we made them believe they are special. While we were raising our kids, we were forsaking the values our parents gave us so that our kids could have everything that we did not. Now that they have everything we could possibly give them, they want more! Boomers and Generation “X” created Generation “Y” and since we made so many of them, we need to get on board their bus and help them drive it into the new millennium!

Don’t worry! Generation “Y” is as intelligent and innovative as all previous generations and they will do us proud as they take over the world we are leaving behind.

All the Best!

Wayne Kehl


Friday, April 9, 2010

Do Not Fear!

“Do not fear. Only believe. All things are possible to him who believes.”

The above noted quote is for every human being on earth. Do you find yourself hesitating while on the verge of making a decision or before doing something wonderful? Do you put things off because you are afraid to take a chance? Do you avoid asking for something that you know you should have because you are afraid of rejection. Most importantly, do you simply not do the things you want to do because your mind is filled with fear?

Fear is the worst limiter of success known to mankind. Fear prevents fabulous inventions from being seen and it prevents great ideas from being heard. On a personal level, fear prevents us from being as successful as we can be. Fear drives us to hold back our best thoughts and most importantly, in the worst cases, it prevents us from being as successful as we would like in our personal and working lives. Think about a girl or boy you were afraid to ask out because you thought he or she would reject you; consider that promotion you did not get because you were afraid to ask; remember the job you did not apply for because you were afraid you would not measure up. Finally...ponder the amazing number of opportunities you have missed in your life because of fear. Fear can rule your life if you let it.

If you want more success, satisfaction and happiness in your life, replace your fear with belief. Believe in your ideas, your skills, your ability, your passion, your strength, your charm, your appearance, your talent. Most importantly...believe in yourself. When you are faced with a challenge, forget your fear and attack it with confidence and self-belief. When you have a good idea, yell it from the rooftops. When you want something, forget about being afraid...go and get it. You cannot lose something you never had so if you want a new job, a raise, a better relationship, or your own business...give it a try...you have nothing to lose!

There is no law against trying and not succeeding is certainly not a crime. You will never know if you can do something until you attempt it, so the next time you feel that something is right for you, summon up all of your courage and chase it down. If you are not successful, move on and do not allow rejection or a singular failure to hold you back from other opportunities. Life is short...free yourself from fear and keep trying every day!

By the way, the quote at the beginning of this, “Do not fear. Only believe. All things are possible to him who believes,” is attributed to Jesus. Whatever your faith, you have to admit that this advice is current and valuable. You can find wisdom almost anywhere so don’t be afraid to seek it out!
All the Best



Saturday, April 3, 2010

Never work a day in your life!

“Find a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”

Confucius...551 to 479 BC

Famed Chinese philosopher, Confucius wrote those words over 2000 years ago but never have they been more meaningful than they are today. The world has changed dramatically since the days of Confucius, to the point that nobody should accept a job they do not enjoy.

If we simply review the events of the twentieth century it is easy to see that mankind has grown and evolved to allow human beings to enjoy the best of everything. The twentieth century saw the First World War, The Second World War, The Korean War and The Viet Nam War. The atom bomb, intercontinental ballistic missiles, machine guns and plastic explosive, were all created by twentieth century inventors. Warfare on a world scale became the norm and during the cold war of the sixties, seventies and eighties the world feared that an all-out atomic war might end civilization as we knew it. But all of that has changed...for the better!

Now, in the twenty-first century, the cold war is over and other than some protracted skirmishes in the middle-east and the ongoing threat of terrorism, the world powers have put down their weapons of mass destruction and are working toward a world where life is good for everyone. All over North America, races of all creeds and colors are living and working together with less prejudice and greater tolerance than ever before. Education is available to virtually anyone who wants it and private and public funding is available to ambitious, optimistic entrepreneurs who want the chance to turn their innovative ideas into viable business enterprises. Bill Gates started the Microsoft Corporation in a garage with his partner Paul Allen, eventually turning it into one of the most successful businesses in the world and making Gates and Allen two of the richest men in the world. True to Confucius, they found the job they loved and I suspect that in their minds, they never worked a day in their lives. Like the founders of Microsoft, your dreams are attainable! This is the best time in the history of the world for you to find the best job for you!

Entrepreneurship is not for everyone but no matter what you do or who you work for, you have the right to be happy. All people do not have the inclination, skill or drive to start and run their own business, but everyone has some sort of talent or skill that is driven by their own internal motivation. Those talents and skills will add value to the right employer if you choose your job wisely. The challenge that many people face is that they are willing to settle for a job that is in no way, shape or form suited to their natural talents, skills or motivations. When people settle for a job they don’t like, they become unsettled internally. Many people become unhappy, frustrated, bored, depressed or even angry from just the thought of having to go to work every morning. Many people exhibit bad behaviour and negative attitudes at work, inflicting their lack of job satisfaction on others. The saddest part of this is that many of those people never give any real thought to what is making them unhappy. They simple accept the fact that their life is lacking something and carry on settling until they retire or die. Ultimately, their dissatisfaction will spill out all over every facet of their life and they will begin to find fault everywhere they go. For those people, being miserable becomes an ingrained lifestyle and some even embrace their misery as a badge of honour. “Woe is me!” You know the type!

Stop the madness! Sort out what you like to do; what you are good at; what makes you happy; and then find a job you love. The perfect job is out there for you if you have the courage to go looking for it. If you don’t know where your strengths lie, do a skill and talent assessment survey to pinpoint what motivates you. Stop blaming your employer for your lack of job satisfaction and either work with him or her to change your job to suit you or quit and find something that does suit you. You have no one to blame but yourself if you are unsatisfied or unhappy at work. If you choose to stay in a job you don’t like you will have the hardest job on earth!

Remember Confucius: “Find a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” It’s up to you!

If you want to take a skills and talents assessment, I can help. More information is available at: www.dlionline.ca